Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
Drew Rattray
| News and views on design vs. functionality balance across the communications and technology space.

Steve Wozniak to Keynote ITEXPO Las Vegas

We are extremely proud to announce Steve Wozniak is a keynoter at ITEXPO in Las Vegas, Thursday, August 29 at 10am....

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Attend the WebRTC Webinar and Learn More about the Disruption

Tomorrow, February, 20th, Dialogic will be hosting a WebRTC webinar and we’re pleased to have with us respected analyst Dean Bubley from...

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Thank You Amazon, Retailers May Now Merge at Will

When reports surfaced regarding Office Depot merging with OfficeMax, the first thing which may have occurred to many, is regulators wouldn’t let...

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Scam Users, Accumulate Facebook Likes, Buy a Ferrari

Bitdefender Labs recently reported that a site showing kittens and unicorns suggested users download a “business flash” plugin in order to see...

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Windows 8 Sync Settings - Security Hole

Windows 8 has a cool new feature that lets you login with your cloud-based Microsoft account (@hotmail.com, @live.com, @outlook.com) and it will...

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Is Apple Too Sexy for MWC?

In deciding not to exhibit at the Macworld events, CES and MWC, Apple has shown the world that it doesn’t need...

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Need a tool for quick mockups?

February 4, 2012

 

Need a tool for quick mockups?

I had the pleasure of trying a demo of Balsamiq Mockups for wireframing recently. My brother turned me on to it so I figure I try it too. 

Lynda.com

January 18, 2012




Lynda.com is an online portal that you go to if you want to learn a new software. The software mostly caters to design/creative professionals but there is truly a topic of interest for everyone, even accountants! 

Although Lynda.com has been around for a long time, I hadn't taken stock of the vast amount of information on the website until recently. I worked for a company that purchased accounts set up for the team so this was my opportunity to brush up on new software updates and also to learn something new. 




SEO Jeopardy

June 14, 2011

Image via Wikipedia

Spoiler Alert:  I’m not going to show you new tricks or give you inside information to any trade secrets. Now that half of you stopped reading, I’ll address the other half that isn’t scrambling for a “quick-fix.” 

For the most part, search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t work out as a global strategy that will optimize for every type of query and keyword. 

Apple's Safari Reader May Become a Publishing Game Changer

June 7, 2011

The WWDC 2011 keynote was jam-packed with software innovations and new offerings from Apple, including new versions of its desktop and mobile operating systems, as well as the all new iCloud.  Of everything announced though, there was one new feature I saw that could potentially disrupt my day-to-day professional life if it took off, and that is the Reader update to the Safari browser.

In a nutshell, if you navigate to a Web page containing an article while using Safari 5 and click the Reader icon in the Smart Address field, the article is pulled forward cleanly, with all disruption, advertising, and unassociated visuals removed. 

The Misconceptions about SEO

April 14, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with SEO.  I probably spend about half of every day researching strategies from around the Web and analyzing my own data to adjust company strategies.  I spend the rest of that day either consulting, or actually getting in the trenches and hammering out some physical Web elements to boost internal efforts.  It’s invigorating trying to solve the puzzle, but the inconsistencies and what I call “Search Engine Mood Swings” are infuriating at a level only a married man can relate to. 

Your GPS is Ruining My Commute

May 18, 2010

Yeah that's right, you in the SUV.  The one with the 4 inch screen suction cupped  to your windshield.  The one keeping their eyes on that dumb purple line instead of on the road like they should be.


You are ruining my morning commute.



I've lived in the Connecticut area for about 25 years now, and I know these roads.  I know the fast roads, the slow roads, the roads that always have traffic, the roads that are always clear, the dangerous roads, the forgotten roads...

The BlackBerry Storm 8 Months Later

August 18, 2009

I really wanted to like this Smartphone.  I've tried so hard.  People ask me on a daily basis how I like the Storm.  I can't tell if they ask out of general curiosity, or pity, but I lie either way and say it's great.  It's terrible, but I have my reasons.  Primarily, I really hate to admit failure in my investment of time and money.  Secondly, I really did hope things would get better with upgrades. It's now been 8 months.  There's been a few OS upgrades, and there is reports of a new model possibly surfacing in November.  It's time to set things straight.

Official review from someone that used the BlackBerry Storm extensively for 8 months:
Run, don't walk away from this BlackBerry.

It had so much potential, so much promise... so many bugs.   When I wake up to the alarm on my BlackBerry Storm every morning (that it decides to work), I glance over at my night table and all I can think about is the "F" word.

Frustration.

No wait...  Failure.  No, maybe Flop.  Or maybe... nahhh can't say that here.

As soon as I depress the screen (multiple times for it to register) to activate snooze for the 5th time, I know all I have to look forward to with my hand-held headache is a full day worth of cursing as my little black and chrome friend refuses to work, lags out, hangs up, or just turns off for no reason.  Sometimes I don't even get to hit snooze.  Those are the mornings I wake up on my own due to the failure of the device overnight.  Those mornings are my favorite.  And by "favorite" I really mean the phone is lucky to still be in one piece at that point.  Those are the mornings that some type of battery or hardware failure occurred overnight and I am greeted with a white screen and an icon of a battery with a blue lightning bolt through it.

Those are the special mornings that I get to take the next couple of hours trying to get the phone to take a charge, pulling the battery, and holding buttons on boot screens, until finally I hit the perfect combination of random events that tell my BlackBerry Storm to come back to life.

Speaking of battery pulls, it's a daily occurrence.  Sometimes multiple times a day.














IE6 Needs to Go

August 11, 2009

I seriously dislike Microsoft products for the most part.  Especially their browser.  As a web designer, Internet Explorer has been a thorn in my side for the better part of a decade.  But, as sad as it is, the world needs Microsoft.  What we no longer need is IE6.

If you've read any of this blog, you know that I am a big proponent of using the next best thing.  Moving forward with technology, ideas, solutions, and standards.  Right now, supporting IE6 specifically is the biggest hurdle I have to overcome on a daily basis.  It's old technology that doesn't support current web standards, yet 15-20% of web users still use it as their primary browser.

No one wants to build a site that doesn't work properly for 1/5 of their target audience, but the time and money wasted on building a site that holds up in today's markets and is IE6 compatible is ridiculous.  It's 2009!  Designers and programmers should not have their creativity and ingenuity handcuffed because people still choose to use a browser that doesn't support advanced CSS or XHTML.  The research, the hacks, the workarounds, the extra lines of code, the extra processes that slow the site down... they aren't worth the money spent by companies and developers. Especially when their user base can upgrade their IE browser for free.  Yeah that's right, it's FREE.

Afraid of upgrading your IE browser? Upgrading your OS to Vista left a bad Microsoft taste in your mouth?  I don't blame you.  OK, here's another solution then.





Cancelling eFax, sort of

July 7, 2009

I had a need for an internet faxing service earlier this month and after a little research, I decided to try the eFax trial service.  Basically, you sign up for a full eFax account, give them everything including your billing information, and if you decide you don't want it, you cancel your account before the 30 days are up.

Today, I decided it's time to cancel before I get nailed with a fee.  While eFax proclaims "Easy Faxing Anywhere", it should also state "Canceling Near Impossible".  There is nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE, on the eFax site that gives you an option to cancel.  After much frustration, I decided to try contacting eFax to get it done.  On the top navigation on the site, I went to "Contact" and then clicked the live chat link.

This is the conversation I had with a delightfully blunt customer service representative.  Actually with the speed of the replies, it might have even been a bot:

Please wait for a site operator to respond.  You are currently number 1 of 1 in the que.  Thank you for your patience.

You are now chatting with 'Soi'

Soi: Welcome to our sales chat.  How may I help you?

Scott Bouchard:  Hello Soi, I'd like to cancel my eFax account and can't seem to find the option on the website account page.

Soi: I am sorry to hear that you wish to leave us.  We have a special support team to assist you with the cancellation process.  Please use the following webpage to get Chat support for cancellation.







https://www.efax.com/en/efax/twa/page/chat

Soi:

https://www.efax.com/en/efax/twa/page/chat

Soi: Thank you for contacting the Sales Team.  Hope you found the session helpful.  Goodbye!

Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.





Well... I tried the link, and it didn't work.  I tried on Safari, Firefox, IE... none of the browsers were able to launch the chat after I filled in my name and e-mail.  Fun times.  So I decided to try the "FAQs" option at https://www.efax.com/help/faq.

In the search I typed "Cancel" and received 2 choices for an answer.  I chose "How to Cancel your eFax Account (2901)".  This page stated the following:

How to Cancel your eFax Account



If you are considering cancelling your eFax account because you are having a problem using the service, keep in mind that the solutions to many common problems can be found in this "Help" section.

If our online help is insufficient or you wish to cancel your eFax account for another reason, please click the blue "Chat Now" button below or click

HERE and a Customer Service representative will assist you.











Michael Jackson Dies and Takes the Internet with Him

June 26, 2009

A handful of the largest sites were brought down last night by the surge of traffic that ensued after news of the death of the King of Pop hit the wires.

Google went down for over a half hour for some users due to the weight of traffic, and many were receiving the message "Your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application".  The search term "Michael Jackson Died" had bombarded Google's servers so fast, so frequently, and in such a volume that it's automated system shut down the keyword.  It wasn't until the term was manually released that users could receive their news on M.J.'s death again.  Google trends described the "Hotness" of the search term as volcanic: http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends?q=michael+jackson+died&date=2009-6-26&sa=X  7 of the top 10 searches had something to do with Michael Jackson throughout the day.



The Michael Jackson Wikipedia page also had to be brought down do to the increased traffic and the bombardment of requests to update the page. 





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